Lockheed’s helicopter seen costing more, taking longer

Lockheed Martin Corp.’s new King Stallion helicopter for the U.S. Marine Corps is likely to cost $144 million each, 4 percent more than projected by the service, and be ready to deploy a year later than planned, according to the Pentagon’s cost assessment office.

The estimate by the independent cost office is an increase from the Navy program office’s most recent projected “program acquisition unit cost” of $138.5 million per copter in a $31 billion program. It’s also a 25 percent increase from the initial goal of about $115 million established in late 2005 for the aircraft designed to haul heavy cargo.

The Pentagon’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office also estimates a delay of about a year to May 2020 in the start of rigorous combat testing that must be completed before the aircraft can be approved for full-rate production — the most profitable phase for Lockheed in what’s planned as a 200-aircraft program. The updated estimate was provided in a new report to Congress that was obtained by Bloomberg News.

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